Douglas A3D-2/A-3B Skywarrior

Last revised October 31, 2001

The definitive production version of the Skywarrior was the A3D-2 (redesignated A-3B in 1962).

The first 123 of these (BuNos 138902/138976, 142236/142255, and 142400/142407, and 142630/142649) initially differed from the A3D-1 by having a strengthened air frame and in being provided with the more powerful Pratt & Whitney J57-P-10 engine, rated at 10,500 lb.s.t. The weapons bay was redesigned to make it possible to carry a wider range of internal stores.

The next 20 A3D-2s (BuNos 142650/142665 and 144626/144629) were fitted with a midair refuelling probe on the port side of the aircraft that extended forward of the nose . Provision was made for the installation of a removable inflight refuelling and tanker package in the bomb bay, which included a hose reel unit and a large fuel tank. The aircraft was also equipped with Cambered Leading Edge (CLE) wings that incorporated inboard leading edge slats which increased the wing area from 779 to 812 square feet.

The last 21 A3D-2s (BuNos 147648/147668) had an AN/ASB-7 bomb director system installed beneath a flat panel nose radome. This replaced the original AN/ASB-1A system that had been mounted behind a pointed radome. In addition, the shape of the extreme tail was markedly changed. The tail turret was eliminated, and was replaced by a set of electronic countermeasures equipment mounted inside a new dovetail-shaped fairing.

The midair refuelling package, the flat panel nose radome, and the new dovetail fairing were progressively retrofitted to most of the early production A3D-2s.

In 1967, 85 A-3Bs were permanently modified at the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) Alameda, California as aerial tankers by removing their bombing equipment and installing permanent fuel management and fuel transfer systems. The reel and receptacle for the probe-and-drogue system was in stalled in the rear part of the bomb bay, with the hose and attached basket being deployed via a protrusion which extended below the rear fuselage.  The reel with the attached basket was unwound as the receiving aircraft approached from below and from the rear. These modified planes were redesignated KA-3B. Later, 34 of these KA-3Bs were modified at NARF as combination electronic countermeasures/aerial tanker aircraft. These were redesignated EKA-3B. The midair refuelling installation was similar to that in the tanker-configured A-3Bs. The ECM equipment was installed in the forward potion of the bomb bay, on top of the fin, in the dovetail tail fairing, and in an external canoe-shaped fairing beneath the fuselage and in pods attached to both sides of the fuselage fore and aft of the wing. After 1975, most surviving EKA-3Bs had their electronic countermeasures equipment and external fairings removed, and were redesignated KA-3B.

Specification of Douglas A3D-2/A-3B Skywarrior

Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney J57-P-10 non-afterburning turbojets, each rated at 10,500 lb.s.t.. Performance: Maximum speed 640 mph at 2500 feet, 610 mph at 10,000 feet, 585 mph at 35,600 feet. Cruising speed 520 mph. Service ceiling 41,000 feet. Normal range 2100 miles. Combat radius 1325 miles with 4100-lb offensive load. Maximum ferry range 2900 miles. Weights: 39,409 pounds empty, 70,000 pounds loaded, 82,000 pounds maximum takeoff.  Dimensions: Wingspan 72 feet 6 inches, length 76 feet 4 inches, height 22 feet 9 1/2 inches. Wing area 812 square feet. Weapons: Maximum offensive load of 12,000 pounds in internal bomb bay.

Serials of Douglas A3D-2/A-3B Skywarrior

138902/138976 	Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior
				c/n 10763/10837.  Redesignated A-3B in 1962.
142236/142255	Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior 
				c/n 11562/11581.  Redesignated A-3B in 1962.
142630/142665	Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior 
				c/n 11693/11728.  Redesignated A-3B in 1962.
144626/144629	Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior 
				c/n 12024/12027.  Redesignated A-3B in 1962.
147648/147668	Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior 
				C/n 12412/12432.  Redesignated A-3B in 1962.


  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Vol 1, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988

  2. American Combat Planes, 3rd Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.